Friday, June 27, 2008

Shame Ubuntu shame

I am no more a fan of Ubuntu. The reason is their recent demonstration of lack of community spirit. Here is the release announcement of Ubuntu hardy alpha6. If you scroll-down you can see the gnome-system-monitor's new cool "Resources" view featured with a nice screenshot. Since Karl-Lattimer worked really hard to make this happen, he asked to be given personal credit on that page. Don't know about others but I see this as a very reasonable thing to ask. The result of this request can be seen in the announcement of hardy beta. They just removed the feature from the announcement. Shame Ubuntu shame.

UPDATE:It's interesting how most of the comments that are from people who got pissed without actually caring to understand the main point of this blog entry (which me and Karl-Lattimer tried to emphasize in the comments) are posting as Anonymous. :) Acknowledging the possibility that they might not think comments are worth reading before commenting, let me make it clear here: The main point not being that they don't give credit to all the people behind the software they market but silently removing a nice feature from the release announcement after being asked to be given credit. If all the contributors ask for credit, would they remove all features from their announcement? I don't think so.


Anonymous said...

Maybe they just forgot to include it or it was accidental ?

Seems to be a bit of a jump to conclusion to assume they removed it because he asked to be credited with it.

Anonymous said...

I don't see it as dramatically as you do.

In the Beta release notes of ubuntu they show the link to the release notes of Gnome2.22.

I think by doing it this way, ubuntu honored the whole gnome community.

zeenix said...

Maybe they just forgot to include it or it was accidental ?

Looking at the two announcements, even a blind person can tell that the latter was a modification of the former and therefore 'forgetting' to include it was hardly possible, especially when they had received email about it from Karl.

Seems to be a bit of a jump to conclusion to assume they removed it because he asked to be credited with it.


Anonymous said...

This is silly. You know, there was a reason that we dumped XFree86 in favor of the renewed on pretty much every distro there is: listing every freaking contributor is just not feasible to do on every single piece of documentation, marketing material, etc.

So somebody made a nice neat resource monitor? Cool. If we list them on the release notes, however, then it would be a complete slap in the face to every other single contributor who did just as much work -- if not more -- that we don't list.

Get over it. Listing a single contributor for a single feature is not cool. Either list them all (not feasible), or leave the credits in the individual packages' documentation.

zeenix said...

Listing a single contributor for a single feature is not cool.

Not if there was just a single contributor to that feature. :) Also! they could have just told him this reason for not providing individual credit instead of removing the feature from their announcement. Note their action was what i criticized, not not giving him credits in the first place.

Anonymous said...

In actuality I discussed this at length at Fosdem with Jorge Castro, he agreed it would be a good idea as they had intended to include the system monitor in the release notes.

It isn't about wanting credit for the work I've done in the face of every other contributor, it was about Ubuntu TAKING credit for my work, without acknowledging the fact that they didn't actually do anything.

I wrote a variety of emails to Jorge regarding this, and in the end, I saw the section removed from the release notes.

Ethan Anderson said...

If you must have acknowledgment, put it in your code license. Lots of people worked very hard for every thing that goes into every distro, and you can't acknowledge them all every time-- it's simply not practical, and speaking as an end user, not needed either.

And what, do we blow past all the folks working on the kernel and core utils and make this a special case just because it's visible on the GUI level?

Unknown said...

I think a better way to honor the developers would be to create a visually appealing application ( probably with some clutter bling ) where every contributor can place some information about himself and his contribution. I think every contributor would get way more out of that than being mentioned on some announcement page.

Anonymous said...


Next post should be shaming Redhat Enterprise Linux for not mentioning Richard Stallman as the original author of GCC.

*ring* *ring*.... Whats that, hey its your phone. Better pick it up....

Guy that wrote this post: "Hello"

Rational Thought: "Can't we be friends?"

Guy that wrote this post: "Sorry, some dude didn't get credit for some code he wrote. We can't be friends. And to top it off, lets jump on the shame train."

*click* *click*

Guy that wrote this post: "Oh, I better conference in the shame train."

Shame train: "Ohhhh, Ubuntu, you know, what were you thinking, everything you stand for is now tainted. I mean, if you don't what this guy thinks, well what good are you?"

Rationale thought: "Are you fucking serious? Ubuntu brought free software to zillions of dorks world-round. Are you saying all that is undone cause they may or may not have messed up?"

Rationale Thought: "Wait, someone at the door."

*walking noises*

*gun shots*

Shame train: "Thats just about enough of that."

Guy that wrote this post: "We are friends forever!"

Shame train: "Yeah but my friend FREEDOM SHAME doesn't use guns, he rips off your nuts."

Anonymous said...

Ubuntu did the right thing. If this marginal feature needs a shoutout, then they'd have to list hundreds of more substantial contributors not to look silly.

Anonymous said...

The set of release notes for 8.04 include links back to the upstream projects that we include - something Karl and I had discussed at FOSDEM.

Obviously the g-s-m bits didn't make the final release notes on I don't know why that is, but I will investigate.

Anonymous said...

Waahhhh. You should stop being a such a drama queen, and he should stop being such an attention whore.

This kind of over-the-top bickering is silly and just gives ammo to open source critics.

Anonymous said...

These last few days I really wish you were not on planet gnome.

Pete said...

Shame, shame.

It's times like this I am ashamed of the's lack of community interests.

I just checked thr release notes for Gnome 2.22, and found they have not credited any of the authors for their work, and they have not included any mention of the new System Monitor visual cleanup.

(end sarcasm. unfortunately even hypocritical jerks are allowed to past trash on their blogs. a shame I have to see it because of my interests in planet gnome)

Eukaryotes pro said...

I totally agree, zeenix

Jason D. Clinton said...

I'm glad that Ubuntu decided that their continuing to take credit for work that they didn't do isn't appropriate. At least in this one case...

Anonymous said...

It's not practical to go around crediting each feature to people. That would triple the size of the page and make it a completely different document.

As for Ubuntu taking the credit... how? Of course they are a little bit, but how is it more than what other distributions do? Do they all credit each and every update?

No. Boo hoo.

Eugenia said...

What Ubuntu did was correct. You simply can't add the names of all the contributors to a changelog, it's just not practical, and that's something you friend should have known and not ask for it in the first place.

And if everyone asks for attribution, then you either ignore them, or you stop doing distributions because it would be more pain in the a$$ than anything else.

You obviously didn't put yourself in ubuntu's place. What would you have done? Would you add the name of a single contributor by leaving everyone else out? That's also unfair too you see. There's no way out.

Gallo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gallo said...

Well that's a hard issue to solve. In one side we have a person that worked really hard in something and all that he wants is his name in there. On the other side we have a distribution page showing it's new features and don't mention any developer or contributor in particular. If Ubuntu choose to include this person name, it would open a precedent to every contributor that wishes to have his name in there, witch obviously is impractical for such a large project as a Linux distro. On the other side, it's not fair to negate such request, as the person probably worked for free on this on his spare time just for contribute to the community.
Maybe Ubuntu could create a "credits" page for that purpose.

ec0 said...

As Thiago said, it's more complicated than it seems. But my problem with your post, is why not shame Redhat, SuSE, Slackware or *BSD for that matter?

I haven't seen any of this distros/OS attribute anything to anyone in their adverts or in their feature lists.

If you think about it, the Ubuntu guys made a mistake including this in the feature page. Who among the other distros mentions this application as a feature on their list? None. Why? make your own mind about why they don't include it.

I mean no disrespect to the author of the software, but how does distributing your software while complying with your license is TAKING credit for your work? Because if it is like so, that means every distro and OS is taking credit for every piece of software they distribute, or am I wrong?

No wait, is the fact that the Ubuntu guys had a page that mentioned your software and didn't give you attribution! Oh, now I see. I'm sure that when revised it they thought the following:

Is really a System Monitor a new feature? No. Will it make people want to use our distro? No. So we don't need it there for our marketing purposes, so take it out, and by the way what were we thinking in the first place to include this?

So by that token if you give a hard look into every Linux distro, is a big Shame list, without including the folks in the BSD and Solaris camp.

Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

omg! omg! how dare they.. !? how dare they exclude me from credits ?! i've done more than 200k clicks on distrowatch for them !!!! how dare they do this to me :(

Anonymous said...

Following your logic, we should make sure in the release notes to acknowledge every single kernel contributor, gcc contributor, gnome contributor etc. What is your point?

Anonymous said...

Its incredible how much people have missed the point of this.

The point is that they were marketing my work as their own. As no other distribution included this I think its fair to simply ignore them. Even though I use one of those distributions, I didn't expect attribution from them because they weren't using it for marketing purposes.

Ubuntu were using it for marketing purposes, and they were implying they had done the work.

I think the Ubuntu trolls need to wake up to the fact that all Ubuntu ever did was make it easy enough for you lot to use linux without whining about the basics...

The rest of us were already users, and developers.

Anonymous said...

The discussion we had was simply to link features talked about in their marketing material to the relevant projects. No big credits, no big hassle, would be good as entry points for newcomers to the community, would be good for all. But the end result was that Karl trying to make this point resulted in this rather than a constructive outcome.

I like Ubuntu as much as the next guy, but really, why not provide a) recognition of the open source projects they tout as major features and b) why not contribute back in this simple way.

The same argument could go for a lot of distros and other packagers of open source projects - its a win-win situation to provide a small help to stimulating individual projects. Is bravado really more important than making your source material stronger?

Anonymous said...

Hmm, Jorge says the release notes had the links in and I believe him, so my above rant is probably invalid (though certainly doesn't have that many links, though at least most projects that implement the features are mentioned by name)

The point still holds however - its in the interest of every open source downstream to highlight and promote their upstreams. I think downstreams could do more work in this respect and upstreams could do more in terms of providing community entrance points for upstreams to use.

Anonymous said...

"The Ubuntu developers are moving very quickly to bring you the
absolute latest and greatest software the Open Source Community has to offer. "

That's about it, they do not say they made everything themselves...

Plus if you don't like it, stop writing GPL code and that's it.

Anonymous said...

"Plus if you don't like it, stop writing GPL code and that's it."

Most likely written from someone who doesn't do any GPL coding. This is not something we want to propagate. Obviously the writer of this comment doesn't understand the huge benefits gained from the GPL ecosystem. People are taking it for granted as a given.

I like Rob Taylor's post about respecting upstream because the truth is if you are getting most things from upstream and you tell them to bugger off they might just take you up on that and in the end you are a left with nothing. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

I am very disappointed in the disrespect given by some of these posts for someone who essentially gives his time to benefit those posters. It seems what is supposed to be a gift culture is turning into the give me culture. But then again I'm heartened by the fact that it is simply propagated by the vocal anonymous coward minority.

I would also like to address the complete BS rewrite of history the XFree86 comment brought up. was formed mainly because one person on the XFree86 team was holding back the modernisation of X and making brash, illogical decisions. Kicking Keith Packard, one of the most productive and respected hackers out of XFree was the last straw which prompted a majority of the X developers to jump ship and form In the end the people who deserved credit got it. If you are going to come to an argument please come armed with facts otherwise you are just some banana republic trying to argue on the assumptions of your own distorted world-view.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened there, maybe this code is sill in beta maybe the guy you mention could not well self-market.

But I just stop here to say one thing I am most un-happy with Maemo about.

Maemo community at large sets Ubuntu as an Open Source idol, but that how Maemo got it wrong.

Ubuntu does not believe in Upstream and Ubuntu does not give back to community.

In that regard it appears OpenSuse or Fedora Project are much better.

Save Maemo by correcting its role models and by Making it a true FOSS upstream of ITOS. Start today !

Anonymous said...

Most of the comments here just keep repeating the same off-the-mark points over and over.

The complaint posted at PGO had nothing to do with not being credited. The complaint had to be dropped altogether from the list of new features in response to e-mail from the author.

We can only guess what the author wrote in those mails, but why was his program dropped altogether from the list? This is the only question you need to consider.

At least his program was mentioned for the beta, that's a little credit for him. Then he asks if could be credited in full and they remove all his credit (apart from the obscure logs). If the two latter events are causal, it's obviously a hostile reaction and this reaction is the center of question, nothing else. Whether he deserves full credit in the announcement or not is entirely irrelevant to the question posed by Zeenix.

Also, why is it illegitimate to criticize Ubuntu on PGO as certain people here imply? I find that a little disturbing. And the guy writing "These last few days I really wish you were not on planet gnome." - go Anonymous coward, go!

Anonymous said...


I find it somewhat unfortunate that a whole project is publically ragged into disrepute due to what was probably the decision of a single maintainer.

I wonder if Mr Lattimer and the Ubuntu maintainer in question or other Ubuntu representatives really exhausted private avenues to settle this issue before grabbing the megaphone.

Both parties certainly have some valid arguments on their side, and against them.

Anonymous said...

The email conversation --

On Fri, 2008-02-29 at 21:15 -0500, Jorge O. Castro wrote:
> I can't find a page for gnome-system-monitor, shall I just link up to

To be honest, on this one I put in the effort, without a company
affiliation, I think it might be nice to attribute it to me :)



* Item removed from release notes

Anonymous said...

Dear Karl, dear Zeenix,

how can you be sure they dropped you from the beta release notes based on you credit request?

And if so have you ever thought that they did because they can't listen any distributor from any package?

The only thing your were right that they have to do a better communication on such requests or may creating a thanks to page that listing all developers and contributors.

BTW i can't see any word about your great work on the Gnome System Monitor in Fedora 9 or OpenSuse 11.

Anonymous said...

Ubuntu constantly contributes to upstream. We file bugs in launchpad, and then we file them upstream. We link them together using launchpad so that when we update one of the bug trackers the other one gets updated.

Stop the fud.

Anonymous said...

uhh, Ubuntu submits patches upstream ??

Anonymous said...

..and Ubuntu ships binary blob junk, left right and center. Right ?

Anonymous said...

Post polarizing garbage to and polarized garbage you get in comments. Shame on zeeshan?

Thanks for tearing community even more apart than it was before.

Howabout trying to get things fixed rather than brake them even more?

Kenneth said...

Get over yourself. Does your ego really need this much stroking?

The community needs people to work together. This sort of divisive attention seeking is distracting and counterproductive to the goal of creating better software.

Keep contributing and producing great software and recognition will come by itself; you don't need to demand recognition. Nobody likes a whiner.

Anonymous said...

"As no other distribution included this I think its fair to simply ignore them."

Ok, so let me get this right. You prefer distros that completely ignore your hard work? At least ubuntu pointed out your hard work for others to see...

Anonymous said...

This is the dumbest blog entry I've seen for a very long time;). I felt forced to comment.

Anonymous said...

I don't yet have all the facts behind the decision, but I can see that you would have reason to be upset if they are as you describe. I can also see that the release managers may have felt it better not to get into a situation where they set a precedent of having to meet every request like this for any feature in a release of GNOME which becomes a release of Ubuntu. I've asked the Ubuntu team to let me know what factored into their decision, and will come back to your blog with some answers in due course.

In the meanwhile, I'd like to comment from my own perspective. At Ubuntu we see ourselves as working very hard to bring innovation in the free software community to a wider audience than it would otherwise receive. And that's a unique contribution that we can make. Everyone plays their part in the ecosystem, everyone makes the contribution that they are most interested in doing, the thing they will find personally most rewarding and satisfying. In the case of Ubuntu, we want to bring the brilliant work of the whole community to the world, predictably and smoothly. That in itself is, I think, an amazing contribution to the open source world - remember what it was like without that? When you had to wait an uncertain amount of time before you could have a fully-supported, properly maintained secure distro of your recent releases? I feel good about the contribution we make just on that level, so it hurts to be accused that "Canonical only makes a meager contribution". If we didn't do the work we do, lots of people wouldn't actually have GNOME on their desktops, lots of bugs would not get filed, the system would not improve at the same rate. Just because we think it is important for us to focus more on that than, say, X or kernel development, is not a good basis for accusing Canonical of not contributing. In this world, we need both farmers and chefs.

We would never try to pretend that work done by someone else, which we are bringing to a wider audience, was done by us. And we have a good track record of celebrating, very publicly, the contributions of individuals who have done brilliant work. That's the best way to say thank you and also the best way to encourage more innovation, more perspiration, more participation. I can point to plenty of examples where this sort of public praise, thanks and credit has been made.

In this specific case, I'll find out why the team chose to drop the feature from the release announcement. I am absolutely sure it was not out of a desire to take credit for someone else's work. It may have been that the team did not want to set a precedent for the final release in the actual announcement, as opposed to on the web site.

If you run Ubuntu, you'll know that we devote a very high-profile menu item to the "About GNOME" dialog box. I've defended that on many occasions, because I think it's vital that a distribution be a conduit for people back to the original projects that actually provide a home for the innovation that makes free software potent. Yes, Canonical does innovate, and does contribute upstream, and it is pretty revolting to read community leaders twisting facts to suggest otherwise. But we recognise that the vast majority of the amazingness in any distro release has come from the work of thousands of OTHER folks, whether that be GNOME, KDE, GNU, kernel, X, Debian or any of the hundreds of communities that help shape the free software platform today.

Anonymous said...

I actually had to check...

sabdfl is Mark Shuttleworth.

Now this unfortunate fracas will probably end up getting picked up by some old-world ("mainstream") computers rags as well. Controversies sell ad space. :-(

Your next move, Lattimer and Zeenix?

Anonymous said...

"We would never try to pretend that work done by someone else, which we are bringing to a wider audience, was done by us."

This instance does not seem to reflect that stance at all.

"If you run Ubuntu, you'll know that we devote a very high-profile menu item to the "About GNOME" dialog box."

No more high profile than, erm, any GNOME desktop, on any distribution... hmm

So you're saying you've defended the an important part of GNOMEs attribution, and credits from being removed from Ubuntu?

Oh how very fucking brave of you...

lol, seriously if that's the best you've got to offer... It fails to justify anything, in fact it illustrates a mentality of others who work at canonical to start taking credit for the whole GNOME stack.

Removing that _STANDARD MENU ITEM_ I don't think is a fair option to ever be considered, and it points to a climate of /taking credit/ rather than /giving credit/

Would you like me to take that spade off you so you don't dig yourself in any deeper?

Anonymous said...

Karl, I don't really know how to respond to your comment. I gave one high profile example of a place where Ubuntu gives clear credit - not by any means the only place - and your response is profane and sarcastic.

I've spoken now with the folks who draft the release announcements. The specific feature you're talking about was dropped from the release announcement simply because the announcement was too long and we needed to focus on the items which would have the biggest impact on the most users, and that specific feature didn't make the cut. That editing was done by folks who had no involvement in your emails with other people in Ubuntu. There was absolutely no causality between you asking for a link to your personal link and your personal name rather than the Gnome name, and the removal of that feature from the announcement. None, whatsoever.

Now, there's lots of value in us figuring out how best to credit everyone who does amazing work in free software, with that work. I think Jorge, Jono, and others are very happy to speak for Ubuntu in this and to make sure we're doing the right thing. I would think Ubuntu has always tried to be outstanding in this regard, as I said earlier, but everyone is open to improving. But that conversation will be a lot more productive if it's not abusive, and if the goal is a shared one - to establish a best practice.

Anonymous said...

Ubuntu Wiki article history, article: HardyHeron/Beta

Article version 18, editor: SteveLangasek, edit summary: drop gnome-system-monitor - users don't choose OSes for system monitors

That's why it was dropped from wiki

Anonymous said...

Profane and sarcastic yep... I'll admit that, maybe it would have been appropriate to drop the single profane word, but after reading your initial post it seemed that you were giving the wrong kind of example.

Thanks for the clear concise explanation as to why the feature was dropped (both yourself and anonymous). It seemed suspicious that it was removed in the way it was, but I will accept this explanation.

I've passed my telephone number onto your secretary in order for you to contact me directly. Please take this opportunity.

Anonymous said...

As the person who contributed the g-s-m blurb and screenshot, among others, to the pre-beta release notes in question, I thought I'd point to some facts.

I found it appropriate to include the improvements in g-s-m in the Alpha 4 release notes because it was among the notable user-facing improvements that landed in Ubuntu Hardy between Alpha 3 and Alpha 4. I also find Steve's decision (as release manager) to remove my blurb correct, simply due to the very significant difference between the nature of the pre-beta milestone release notes and beta release notes. Ubuntu beta releases are typically exposed to an audience which is orders of magnitude larger than the audience testing the pre-beta milestones. This audience is also a different one in terms of their expectations from the OS they are about the test, their reasons for testing it, and the kind of contribution they can make to the release past that point, if any. Thus it makes every kind of sense to present them with a different, more consolidated set of notes regarding the new features. The g-s-m revamp was relevant information to a pre-beta milestone tester. It was not very relevant to a beta tester, at least not to the degree that necessitated including it as a separate item in the list of new features.

As Mark has pointed out, there has been no casual relation between Karl's request, (which was parallel with requests other upstreams and has been pointed to release note contributors and brought up in the last Ubuntu Development Summit by Jorge) and the removal of g-s-m from the list.

We've had a constructive session dedicated to the status of release notes and new feature listings (which we want to separate), with attendance of community contributors to these documents, Steve, Jorge, Jono and a group of Ubuntu developers, where we reviewed important criticisms regarding the release notes, including but not limited to concerns from upstreams regarding the credit given to them, last minute edits (improving the coordination - the GVFS blurb I had written was "updated" by someone else in the beta release notes at the very last minute, causing a lot of confusion and misinforming users - I take full responsibility for this going unnoticed), the distinction between "release notes" (which should consist more or less of errata, caveats, significant changes that may require user intervention in upgrades, and be of a technical nature) and the "new feature tour" (which should be oriented towards non-technical users). We have a list of action items (which I can provide at request) from this meeting whose fruits I'm sure you will be seeing in the release notes and new feature listings for Intrepid.

Anonymous said...

It's also worth noting that GNOME 2.22 went final on March 12nd, and the Ubuntu 8.04 beta was published on March 20th. Due to the synchronized release schedules of the two projects, individual GNOME components land in the Ubuntu development branch in pieces all along the development cycle, and the final GNOME release is complete around time for the beta release.

This means that there was actually a full, released GNOME 2.22 that we could talk about in the beta release notes, as opposed to the alpha ones, where it made more sense to expose individual GNOME components as they arrived in Hardy.